I Got in a Car Accident. Now What?

In a car accident and not sure what to do? Take a deep breath and follow these steps.

Right Away

Find a safe spot. If you’re in traffic and you can drive your vehicle, move it out of traffic. If you can't move it, don't try. Turn off your engine. If you’re hurt and/or can't get out of your car – or it's not safe to try – keep your seatbelt fastened and turn on your flashers.

Call 911. Call immediately if there’s an injury. And even if no one is hurt, it’s still a smart idea to call the police as many areas legally require you to report car accidents.

Don't accept or place blame. Don't admit fault or blame the other driver. You can ask if they’re injured.

Take photos. If you can, snap a photo of the other driver(s) involved, their license plates and any damage done. Also take photos of the scene, the roads, traffic signs, and the direction each vehicle was traveling. It can be hard to remember these details even a few hours later!

Exchange information. Share your name  and insurance company with the other driver, and ask that they share the same with you. Make it easy by taking a picture of each other’s driver’s licenses and insurance cards. Never provide your social security number. Tip: If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, call the police if you haven’t already.

Take notes on your phone. Try to capture as many details as you can:

  • Year, make, model, color of the other car
  • Driver and passenger names and ages
  • Exact location
  • Your speed
  • Date and time
  • Weather conditions
  • Time police arrived and their name and badge number
  • Road conditions
  • Witnesses (get names and contact info)

Call your insurance agent. The sooner your agent is aware of the accident, the sooner they can help you get your life back to normal.

Get a copy of the accident report. Make sure it includes the officer's name and contact information. This will be useful if the accident goes to court.

Call a tow truck. If your vehicle is unsafe to drive, call a tow truck and have a professional mechanic check it out.

After You Leave the Scene

Put down the pen. Don’t sign paperwork from the other driver’s attorney or insurance company. Your insurance company will handle this for you.

File a claim. Use the Report a Claim form to report the accident. Submitting your claim online is easy and only takes minutes depending on the incident.

Decide if you need an attorney. Contact one if you believe it’s needed.

Take care of yourself. Getting in an accident can be scary, and the physical and emotional symptoms can be different for everyone. Before you rush back to work, school or daily life, check in with your body – and get a doctor’s appointment on the books if you’re not feeling like yourself.

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Related Topics: On The Road